New Assessments, Better Instruction? Designing Assessment Systems to Promote Instructional Improvement
The Hewlett Foundation commissioned RAND to review research about the effects of assessment and to summarize what is known about assessment as a lever for reform. To explore the likely influence of new assessments on teaching practice and the conditions that moderate that relationship, researchers conducted a series of literature reviews. The reviews suggest a wide variety of effects that testing might have on teachers’ activities in the classroom, including changes in curriculum content and emphasis, changes in how teachers allocate time and resources across different pedagogical activities, and changes in how teachers interact with individual students. The literature also identifies a number of conditions that affect the impact that assessment may have on practice. Research suggests that the role of tests will be enhanced by policies that ensure the tests mirror high-quality instruction, are part of a larger, systemic change effort, and are accompanied by specific supports for teachers.